BERHAMPUR: The 21-day festival of penance, Danda Nacha, a religious folk dance of Ganjam district, came to an end on the occasion of Mahabishuva Sankranti on Sunday. Danda Nacha of Ganjam is considered as the most ancient traditional form of worship. Participants of Danda Nacha are called as ‘Dandua’ and the chief is known as ‘Pata Dandua’. The Dandua troupes move from village to village to perform the dance which is dedicated to Lord Shiva and Goddess Kali.
They perform Dhuli Danda, Pani Danda and Agni Danda. On the closing day, Danda Nacha is known as ‘Meru Yatra’ which is observed on the day of Mahabishuva Sankranti in Odia month of Chaitra. During the 21-day ordeal, Danduas remain away from their home and wear sacred thread. On ‘Meru Sankranti’, the troupes return to their villages. After performing their usual rituals, Danduas participate in ‘Kamana Ghar’ where a yajna pit is set up with three poles.
Later, ‘Pata Dandua’, head of the troupe who remains inside the Kali temple for 21 days, is brought out after a bath of vermilion. He is made to walk on burning coal before being hung upside down on the horizontal pole till a few drops of blood ooze out from his nostrils and fall into yagna pit in the presence of thousands of devotees. After the ordeal is over, Danduas go to Kali temple to offer their gratitude to the Goddess. The day also coincides with Hanuman Jayanti, Pana Sankranti, Hindu New Year and Dr Ambedkar Jayanti.